Cinderella is a three-act ballet by Sergei Prokofiev, based on Charles Perrault’s fairy tale of the same name.
Prokofiev came up with the plot for the ballet in winter 1940. While in the city of Perm (Russia) in 1943, where the Kirov Theatre operated at that time, Prokofiev finished Cinderella in close collaboration with librettist N. Volkov and choreographer K. Sergeev.
The work joins the tradition of the most remarkable pieces of Russian ballet music. Its distinguishing feature is that Pokofiev aimed to present the old fairytale theme in the most humane manner possible.
Prokofiev wrote, “I see Cinderella not only as a fairy-tale character, but also as a real person, feeling, experiencing, moving among us.”
Cinderella happened to first see limelight at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow during the memorable year of 1945. The performance felt like the festive Victory fireworks launched to celebrate the triumph of justice and humanity over evil and hatred. Consequently it was a truly dramatic and sumptuous production…
The choreographer was R. Zakharov.
In their home, the wicked Stepmother and her two daughters, both vulgar and haughty, are trying on a scarf.
Cinderella enters. She recalls the time when her mother was still alive. The girl comes to her farther for comforting but he is totally submissive to his new wife.
A beggar-woman calls on them. The Stepsisters send her away but Cinderella furtively asks her in for some rest and food.
The Stepmother and Stepsisters are getting ready to leave for the court ball. They are trying on their new finery. A dance master is training the clumsy Stepsisters one more time before the event. The Stepmother and Stepsisters finally depart, leaving Cinderella alone. Dreaming of attending a ball, she dances solo.
The beggar-woman reappears. She suddenly reveals herself to be a Fairy, who has come to reward Cinderella for her kindness. Assisted by the Fairies of the Four Seasons, she helps Cinderella prepare for the ball. But she warns that Cinderella must leave the palace before midnight.
At the palace, the court ball is in full swing.
The courtiers are dancing. The Stepmother and Stepsisters arrive. The Stepsisters’ awkwardness catches everyone’s eye. The prince enters. The guests dance the mazurka. An intriguing unknown lady arrives to the solemn strains of music. It is Cinderella. The Prince, enraptured, engages her to dance (the Grand Waltz).
The Stepsisters try to attract the Prince’s attention (The Duet With The Oranges), but with no success. The Prince is constantly at Cinderella’s side. They both lose track of time. The romantic Waltz-Coda is abruptly interrupted by the chiming of the clock. It is already midnight. Cinderella runs off, losing one of her slippers. The Prince picks it up.
The prince is in despair. He conducts slipper fittings for all ladies throughout the kingdom, but none of them is successful. He travels the world in search of the mysterious girl, seeking for her in Spain, the East, China, and Russia, but she is nowhere to be found.
Meanwhile, Cinderella is busy with her routine chores in her Stepmother’s home, indulging in memories of the ball.
Suddenly the Prince arrives. He orders all the women to try on the slipper. But however hard the Stepsisters, and then the Stepmother, try to get their feet into the slipper, it does not fit them.
The Prince notices Cinderella, and suggests that she tries on the slipper, too. Cinderella refuses, but after a while the other slipper falls from her pocket. As the Prince looks into her face he recognizes his beloved. Now nothing can separate them.